Island Hopping: Aug 25 – Sept. 2

Header image is a historical postcard of 96th Street in Stone Harbor.

Cool weather at last! The temperatures are starting to dip as we enter the last stretch of the summer season. Last week, the daily highs were in the 70s throughout most of the barrier islands. And with cool weather comes festival season in Cape May County; be sure to check out our guide to the county’s fall festivals later in the magazine.  

This week on Island Hopping, we’ll start our day at the Rio Grande Diner in Rio Grande. Fun fact: Rio Grande, the town, was named in the 1800s after the famous river not because its founder was from Mexico or Texas, but because they thought the name sounded cool.  

A burger at the Rio Grande Diner.

So here we are nearly two hundred years later at New Jersey diner named after a mighty Mexican river. The Rio Grande diner is a great inexpensive breakfast spot with fast service and well-prepared American breakfast favorites. If you’re like your editor and show up for breakfast at noon: fear not. They serve breakfast all day!  

A 10% off coupon for the Rio Grande Diner can be found later in the publication in their ad.  

After breakfast, head over to Sea Isle City, where a lot of season-end events are taking place. “Foodie Weekend” (August 26th and 27th) brings a lot of locally popular food trucks to Sea Isle. Food trucks have had an increasingly large presence in the county, and for good reason. They give a chance for locals and tourists alike to try food they might otherwise not find in the area.  

Sea Isle is also holding its annual “sidewalk sale” on August 27th and 28th. Stores are eager to get rid of their stock before they’re sacked with them for the winter, so the sale is a great place to get local merchandise at discount. A similar sidewalk sale also takes place on 96th street in Stone Harbor on August 27th.  

If you’re looking for lunch afterward, Cape May Court House is just a short drive away from Stone Harbor and is home to a lot of long-standing year-round restaurants. We recommend Claudio’s Pizza Kitchen, right by the mighty county library, the historic courthouse itself, and the historic Methodist church.  

Claudio’s Pizza in Court House.

Claudio’s offers handmade pizza in a variety of specialty styles. Their white-sauce pizza is especially good, as is their buffalo chicken pizza. Individual slices are available if you’re looking to be in and out, and full pizzas are always available for takeout or sit-in.  

They also have fresh-made stromboli, Fusilli dishes, seafood dinners, and all-around enough variety to satisfy even those who don’t like pizza.  

After you hit Claudio’s, consider taking a trip down Route 9 (or the Garden State Parkway) to Cape May city. No trip to Cape May County is complete without a trip to Cape May itself.  

Cape May, along with West Cape May and Cape May Point, rests on an artificial island south of the Cape May canal. The canal was built during the second World War to hide ships from spying German submarines, which often patrolled our coast.  

The German submarines are gone now, but the canal, and beautiful Victorian Cape May, remains. The city of Cape May is closing the summer out with several free dance parties. Last week, Capestock brought back breezy memories of the 60s and 70s. This week, Cape May brings the “South” to South Jersey with a free “country line dance night” at the Cape May Convention Center on August 28th from 6 to 8 p.m.  

Food Truck Weekend in Stone Harbor.

If you’ve never line danced, no worries! Instructors will teach the crowd, probably full of dirty yankees, how to dance. If you’re looking for a pre-dance dinner, Louisa’s Café, Hemingway’s, and Harbor View are all good options nearby. 

And that’s all for Island Hopping! Did you love it? Did you hate it? We welcome your feedback! Email with any suggestions or recommendations for future editions.